OVERNIGHT HEALTH: State of the Union frames election-year battles

The administration agreed during budget deals last year to ax more than $2 billion from the healthcare law’s co-op program, and Obama’s deficit-reduction proposal included a $3.5 billion cut to the law’s prevention and public health fund. That proposal also called for higher cost-sharing in Medicare.

Whether those cuts will make it into Obama’s budget request remains to be seen, and that wait will be a little longer than usual. The White House said Monday it will release its budget outline Feb. 13 — a week later than the legal deadline. The Hill has more on the delay.

And in the other corner: The Republican primary is only getting testier as it moves into the pivotal state of Florida, where the candidates will debate tonight. Rick Santorum launched an especially aggressive healthcare attack during the last debate that put both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney on the defensive, trying to contrast themselves with President Obama but not so much with each other.

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The debate airs at 9 p.m. on NBC.

More must-see TV: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the guest tonight on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

The doc fix is back: In addition to the State of the Union, tomorrow will feature the first official meeting of the conference committee trying to work out a yearlong "doc fix." The American Medical Association was out with another letter Monday evening urging Congress to permanently replace Medicare’s payment formula for doctors, and to use savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as an offset.

"By eliminating this failed formula once and for all, Congress can stop growing the size of the problem for patients, physicians and taxpayers," the AMA said. "With a 27 percent cut scheduled on March 1, the time for permanent action is now."

No recusal debate: The Supreme Court won’t let a conservative legal group take part in oral arguments over healthcare and make the case against Justice Elana Kagan. FreedomWorks had asked for time during the oral arguments, and the brief it filed along with that request was devoted to claims that Kagan should either recuse herself from the healthcare suit or be removed. The court denied FreedomWorks’s request on Monday. Healthwatch has more.

How much progress? A new analysis from the Urban Institute says several states aren’t even close to having an insurance exchange up and running by 2014 — and they’re mostly the states that would see the biggest coverage expansions under the healthcare law. Read Healthwatch's rundown of the new findings.

Abortion anniversary: Tens of thousands of abortion-rights opponents descended on the Capitol on the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. The National Right to Life Committee and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) marked the occasion by unveiling federal legislation to ban abortion in the District of Columbia past the 20th week. Check out Healthwatch Tuesday morning for more on that effort.


Tuesday's agenda

Back to work: The bicameral, bipartisan conference committee tasked with prolonging the payroll tax cut and postponing an almost 30 percent cut to Medicare physician payment rates past the end of next month meets for the first time. The meeting will take place on the House side, in Room 1100 of the Longworth office building, at 2:30 p.m.

Agents and brokers convene: Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) address the second day of the National Association of Health Underwriters' Capitol conference on "Taking Care of Business: Our Response to Health Reform Moving Forward." Tuesday's events  focus on ways to contain health costs. Here's the agenda.


State by state

Arkansas lawmakers approved a contract for planning the state's role in creating a health insurance exchange along party lines.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin (R) is returning an almost $11 million federal grant aimed at helping the state enroll Medicaid beneficiaries.

Minnesota Republicans must decide if they hate President Obama's healthcare law enough to reject a Republican-authored bill to create a state-run health insurance exchange.


Lobbying registrations

Mrs. Maria Freese / Barbara Kennelly Associates, on behalf of the Healthcare Leadership Council (repeal of the health law's Independent Payment Advisory Board)

Avenue Solutions / ViroPharma Incorporated (drug user fees)

Brown Rudnick / Neuroscience Centers of Florida Foundation

Carmen Group Incorporated / The University of Chicago Medical Center

Denny Miller Associates / Total Living Choices (post-acute care for veterans)

Faegre BD Consulting / AIT (specialty lab)

Faegre BD Consulting / Coalition for Excellence in Medication Monitoring

Faegre BD Consulting / RS Medical (durable medical equipment)

White House Consulting / CereScan (brain imaging)

Mercury/Clark & Weinstock / Federation of American Hospitals

Roberti White / Astellas Pharma US

Strategic Health Care / Aultman Hospital

Schmitz Global Partners / Lilly Deutschland GmbH (pharmaceutical company)

The Brewer Group / Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum

M. J. Simon & Company / Community Transportation Association (Diagnostic testing and treatment for persons with sleep disorders)


Reading list

Three out of four uninsured Americans live in states that have yet to figure out how to deliver on its promise of affordable medical care, The Associated Press reports.

By allowing big food to self-regulate when it comes to using antibiotics as a growth promoter in animals, the FDA is setting up a disaster, says The Atlantic.

Long-term care insurance isn't right for everyone, says The Washington Post.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Week ahead: State of the Union sets the stage for healthcare clash

Healthcare reform board seeks comment on research agenda

Obama to shift strategy on healthcare in 2012

Obama defends Roe v. Wade on anniversary of Supreme Court ruling


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

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